Virginia Tech® home

Marketing Department Graduate Policies and Procedures Manual

The Ph.D. program in Business, with a concentration in Marketing, is designed to prepare graduates to conduct and publish high quality scholarly research in the leading marketing journals (e.g., Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science). It aims to cultivate a strong appreciation of the range of scholarly activities to which they may contribute in their faculty roles in research-oriented business schools and/or from their positions in industry or government that require high-level research competencies.

The program is highly selective, rigorous, and personalized. The size of the program is strictly controlled to allow for intensive faculty-student collaboration. The required coursework provides rigorous exposure to the academic research literature in marketing as well as research methods and statistics. At the same time, we recognize that students bring a variety of interests and we will work with students to develop programs of study that will allow them to productively pursue those interests.

Applications must be submitted to the Graduate School on the online application site for the PhD program. Applicants should provide all necessary application material as soon as possible and no later than January 31 of the year for which they are seeking admission. We only admit students to start in the fall semester.

The following items are required for a completed application:

  1. Application form on the Graduate School Application site
  2. Resume
  3. Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate records (unofficial copies may be submitted at the time of application, but official copies sent directly from school(s) attended are required prior to program registration)
  4. Candidate statement of purpose (indicating, for instance, Primary goals in pursuing this Ph.D. degree, Specific research interest and what drives this interest, Academic background)
  5. Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the student and able to judge potential for academic success in Ph.D. level work.
  6. Evidence of proficiency in English via appropriate certification or the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language; for international students only)
  7. GMAT/GRE scores
  8. Application fee (nonrefundable) set by the Graduate School
  9. Financial Support Statement (i.e., proof of having sufficient funds to cover their educational and living expenses for at least one year; for international students only)

Admission decisions are made by the Graduate Committee of the Marketing Department and will be communicated to the applicants as soon as possible.

The program is designed as a five-year program with a strong research focus on marketing research areas including consumer research, judgment and decision-making, consumer health and welfare, public policy, marketing management and strategy, and research methodology. The doctoral program, administered by the Graduate Program Committee in the Department of Marketing and the Graduate School of Virginia Tech, requires coursework in marketing content and theory, statistics, research methodology, and one supporting specialization (or minor). The specialization should be consistent with the student's interests and professional goals. This specialization can be disciplinary (e.g., statistics, psychology), or interdisciplinary. The program, in its entirety, is designed to train students to conceptualize, design and execute high-quality research; analyze data; and disseminate knowledge to peers, students, and practitioners.

Credit requirements

A minimum of ninety (90) semester hours of relevant graduate study beyond a baccalaureate must be completed to receive a Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in Marketing. This includes at least thirty (30) credit hours of graded coursework. The credit hours of coursework include a minimum 15 credit hours of graded Ph.D. level research methods and statistics coursework. Credits from at least three graded courses are required in the chosen specialization. At least 30 credit hours need to be devoted to research and dissertation; the mandatory first-year summer paper count as 3 credits and the second-year summer paper as 4 credits. Students can submit transfer course requests to the Graduate Committee for approval, to count towards at most 50% of the graded credit hours. Transferred courses count only as credit hours and are not included in the calculation of the Virginia Tech GPA.

Students need to submit a Plan of Study, detailing the credits earned and planned, by the end of the third academic semester (i.e., by the end of the Fall semester of the student’s second year in the program), to the department. In order to file a Study Plan, it is necessary to (1) decide upon a committee chair and the faculty members who will form the advisory committee (four members in total), and (2) with their consent, develop a semester-by-semester description of course work to be completed to satisfy Ph.D. degree requirements. The Plan of Study needs to be submitted to and formally approved by the graduate school when the student is ready to defend their proposal. Approval of Plan of Study by the graduate school is required for initiating the proposal defense.

Progress toward credit requirements

Students are expected to take 9 credits of coursework and 3 credits of research each semester during their first and second year. This is done in consultation with the Graduate Studies Director, who will review and approve the students’ course selections each semester. Students are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average of B or higher (equivalent with a 3.0 GPA or higher).

Both at the end of the first year and of the second year, students have to submit a summer research paper. The first-year summer paper counts as qualifying exam (see below).It is expected that the second-year summer paper serves as a basis for their dissertation proposal.

After the second year, students can take additional courses if that is of interest, but the total credits for coursework cannot exceed 48 credit hours, unless approved by the graduate committee. At most 18 credits can be taken as Independent study (MKTG 5974) or Special Study (MKTG 5984 and MKTG 6984). Independent study and special study courses allow students to pursue subject matter study in areas for which there are no approved formal courses. Independent study courses generally involve extensive reading and tutorial sessions with a faculty member. Special study courses are designed for a group of students, rather than for a single individual. Independent and Special Study at the Graduate level requires a syllabus, a title, justification, and the method of evaluation. These courses are offered on a “pass/fail” basis only. Research and dissertation credits (MKTG 7994) will be awarded as students conduct research, and successfully defend their dissertation proposal.

Below is an overview of the mandatory classes. (* refers to classes with a temporary number, currently offered as special studies)






MGT 5124 Business Research Methods or

FIN 6104 Financial Research Methods (Econometrics 1)



MKTG 6106 - Advanced Topics in Marketing: Marketing Management and Strategy


MKTG-6304 - Seminar in Buyer Behavior Research



MGT 6224 - Applied Measurement in Business Research or

MKTG 6244 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Business Research (Econometrics 2)



MKTG 6204 - Judgement and Decision-Making Research in Marketing


MKTG 6106 - Quantitative Models in Marketing



MKTG 6264* Advanced Multivariate Statistics for Business Research



MKTG 6234 - Experimental Methods in Business Research or

MKTG 6254* Bayesian Methods in Business Research



MKTG 6304 - Seminar in Buyer Behavior Research Or

MKTG 6106 - Advanced Topics in Marketing: Marketing Management and strategy



MKTG 6224* Qualitative & Survey Methods for Business Research


MKTG 6274* Time Series Analysis in Business Research



MKTG 6984* - Seminar in in Applied Marketing Research Theory

During the first year, the Graduate Program Committee will be responsible for advising doctoral students. Once the student passes the Qualifying Examination, the student works with the Graduate Program Committee in identifying an advisor, who will guide the student's further study.

Qualifying Examination Committee

During the first summer of their program, students will write a summer research proposal which also serves as the students’ Qualifying Examination. This research effort will be evaluated by a two-member faculty committee (a reading committee) and the GSD. Guidelines for this assignment are provided below. The committee composition will be approved by the GSD.

PhD Advisory Committee

The Study Plan, to be submitted at the end of the third semester. includes the formation of the student’s PhD advisory committee which then advises the student until the formation of the student’s PhD Dissertation Committee. The advisory committee consists of at least four members, with a preference that one member be from outside the department (this is not a requirement though). Non-tenured faculty cannot chair the committee but can serve as co-chair.

The student is responsible for forming the committee and is strongly encouraged to seek advice from the GSD and the department head in identifying an advisory committee chair. The committee chair may then help identify other committee members. All committee members are formally appointed to the Graduate School faculty upon recommendation by the department head and the GSD.

The student’s PhD advisory committee guides the student on developing the program of study and formally approves the plan. This committee (or a subset of at least two members) advises and evaluates the student on the second-year summer research paper.

Dissertation Committee

Students are expected to create a Dissertation Committee after successfully passing their Preliminary Examination (a.k.a. dissertation proposal), which ideally occurs by the end of their fourth semester. The requirements for the dissertation committee are the same as for the PhD advisory committee, but the actual composition may be different. The committee should be created in consultation with your dissertation chair.

The composition of the Dissertation Committee can be changed during the PhD studies. Guidelines for changing the dissertation committee are provided in the Graduate Catalogue. Changes require the approval of all committee members (new and old), the GSD and the department head.

Progress toward the degree is evaluated at several points during the doctoral student’s program of study. The evaluation elements include, but are not limited to, reviews of academic progress (maintaining a 3.0 GPA), annual progress reports, the qualifying exam (summer research proposal), the second year research paper, the preliminary examination (defense of the dissertation proposal), and the final examination (dissertation defense).

Annual Performance Evaluation

All students will undergo an annual evaluation of their performance in the PhD program, and students’ performance during the entire period of their doctoral program will be documented in this evaluation. This evaluation is conducted by the Graduate Committee end of January.

Students are requested to fill out an annual review form.

Students who fail to complete the third semester of the program with a minimum GPA of 3.0 will be dismissed from the program as per the Graduate School’s rules. Students who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory ratings on their annual performance evaluation will be dismissed, too. Students who are dismissed may graduate with a Master’s degree if they meet the requirements (see below).

Qualifying Examination (a.k.a. first-year paper)

The goal of the doctoral program in marketing is to develop doctoral candidates who can conduct high-quality research. To be successful in this, students must learn how to think independently as well as understand the nuances of the research process. Therefore, our program is structured to help students efficiently meet this objective.

First-year students will be required to submit an original Summer Research paper during the Summer after their first year (day after Labor Day). This work is expected to be conducted independently. While students can discuss the content of this paper with faculty, it should mainly reflect their own work. When discussing their ideas for their qualifying exam, students should disclose that the discussion pertains to their first-year summer paper. This allows faculty gauging the appropriate level of involvement. In any event, faculty members cannot write or edit parts of the summer paper, nor can they design studies. They can give advice on literature to look at, the viability of an idea, and ask critical questions that serve to push the project further. Specific questions can be addressed to the Graduate Program Director.

The main text of the paper cannot extend over 50 pages (references and appendices will not be counted towards this length). Standard formatting guidelines apply (1-inch margins, Times New Roman 12 font, and so on). The paper should follow standard stylesheets used in Marketing. For behavioral and qualitative work, please use the Journal of Consumer Research’s stylesheet and formatting guidelines. For quantitative work, please use Marketing Science’s stylesheet and formatting guidelines. Students will be required to present this paper later (End-September).

The graduate committee will nominate a committee to review this paper and the presentation. Reviewers will assess the merits of this paper and the accompanying presentation and make a decision. A simple majority will determine the outcome. If the outcome is unsatisfactory,students will receive the opportunity to revise their paper. This revision will count as the final attempt for the qualifying exam.

Students who fail this exam will be asked to leave the program. They will be allowed to pursue and complete a Master's degree in Marketing. This requires 30 credit hours of relevant graduate courses (at least 9 credit hours in advanced marketing courses and at least 9 credit hours of research methods and statistics courses) and the completion of a comprehensive project, examination or thesis (counting for 6 credit hours).

Second year paper

Students are required to submit a second-year summer paper that should provide the foundation for the student’s dissertation research and show evidence of both conceptual and empirical strength. This paper should be submitted before Labor Day and will be evaluated by the student’s Ph.D. advisory committee. The Graduate Committee Director will be an ex-officio committee member. Should a student’s initial submission not meet expectations, they may be offered an opportunity to develop a revised submission. Students who are unsuccessful in this second attempt may be counseled to withdraw or dismissed from the program. Students who withdraw or are dismissed may be eligible for award of an M.S. degree provided they have completed the necessary coursework and other requirements (see above).

Preliminary Examination

For PhD students, the university requirement for the Preliminary Examination is satisfied when the dissertation proposal is successfully defended. This signals that the student has developed a sufficient level of proficiency in their sub-field and acquired the relevant research skills to execute their dissertation research. Evaluation of the preliminary examination occurs in two phases and is administered by the student’s advisory committee: (1) an oral presentation of the dissertation proposal based on a preliminary written proposal and (2) a final written proposal document that incorporates revisions based on feedback received during the oral presentation.

Preliminary Written Proposal. The preliminary written dissertation proposal should include a cover page with space for committee members’ signatures. The document may be developed in one of alternative formats based on guidance from the dissertation advisory committee. One format may consist of the initial chapter(s) of the dissertation. These chapters should (a) introduce the research topic/question and discuss its significance; (b) provide a detailed review of the relevant theoretical and empirical literature; (c) develop the conceptual model, propositions, and hypotheses and (d) present the research design, data collection methods, and analysis procedures to be used, as well as research that has been conducted.

The student will distribute the written preliminary dissertation proposal to the committee and seek approval to present the dissertation proposal. Once committee members agree that the student is ready to present the preliminary dissertation proposal, the “Request to Admit Candidate to Preliminary Examination” form should be submitted to the Graduate School. The form must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the proposed exam date. ( This implies that the written preliminary dissertation proposal needs to be sent to the committee more than 2 weeks before the proposed exam date.

Proposal Presentation. The dissertation proposal seminar is open to faculty and graduate students. The committee chair facilitates the discussion during the student’s presentation. Following the presentation, attendees who are not committee members are excused. The committee then assesses the student’s performance. There are two possible grades for an oral examination: “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” If more than one committee member grades a student’s performance as “unsatisfactory”, the student is not admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.

If the preliminary examination is failed, a second examination must be scheduled during the next academic semester (i.e., ordinarily no earlier than 15 weeks and no later than one year from the first examination). Any exceptions require the consent of the student’s committee, the departmental graduate director and/or the department head. The examination may be taken no more than twice. The Graduate School specifies that any student failing a mandatory examination twice will be dismissed from the program.

Given a satisfactory outcome on the preliminary oral examination, the committee may choose one of two options (1) accept the proposal as submitted; (2) have the student collate the committee feedback and prepare a response documenting how these issues will be addressed. Should the second option be exercised, the student may be given no more than two weeks to prepare the response to the committee. Committee members should review and acknowledge this document within two weeks. This document along with the preliminary written proposal will serve to document expectations for the final defense

Note: While the proposal presentation is a moment of evaluation, it is also a moment of feedback. Students are encouraged to take the opportunity of the defense to ask specific questions in addition to presenting their ideas and work. At the same time, students are also encouraged to interact frequently with their advisory committee before defending their dissertation proposal. Finally, we recommend that students to defend their proposal in the Spring semester of their third year. Early proposal defenses allow the student to benefit more from the committee’s feedback and engage in corrective action if necessary.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is the final examination. Graduate School policy stipulates that this examination be scheduled no earlier than six months after successful completion of the preliminary examination. The form “Request to Admit Candidate to Final Exam” must be signed and submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to a student’s desired dissertation defense date. The graduate director will then announce the Ph.D. dissertation defense date and topic to the faculty and doctoral students of the Marketing department. Faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend any dissertation defense. The Graduate School requires to defend well before the end of the semester to attend graduation. See the Graduate School website for the timeline. If one is unable to defend their completed dissertation during the Spring semester, one will have to enroll during the summer semester. Please consult the Graduate School's website for details. Also, other details relating to dissertation formatting and other requirements can be found at the Graduate School's website.

Teaching Expectations

Students are also expected to teach in their third, fourth and fifth year. Teaching assignments are usually made by the Department Head in consultation with the Graduate Program Director.

Because teaching is an important component in a Faculty member's life, students need to learn pedagogical skills. As part of this, we recommend that students take pedagogical courses offered by the Graduate School. One such required course is the Graduate Teaching Assistant workshop ( rkshop.html). The Graduate Committee will also assign a faculty mentor to students teaching.

Please direct any teaching related questions to your faculty mentor.

As part of their RA responsibilities, students are also expected to assist faculty in teaching-related tasks that the faculty may assign them.

Conference Travel Funding

We recognize the importance of attending conferences and the marketing department will provide support to students presenting at these conferences. The department will provide $800 towards conference travel/per year if you are a presenting author. Other funding sources are also available within the College and at the University, including the Graduate School. Before the department will reimburse travel you must also provide evidence that you have applied to the Graduate School for a travel fund grant. We recommend that you also consider other sources of funding. Funding requests should be made to the Graduate Program Director.

Other Concerns

For all other questions or concerns please contact the Graduate Program Director.

Marketing Department

Department Head Dr. Rajesh Bagchi
2016 Pamplin Hall
Director of Graduate Studies & Chair of the Graduate Program Committee Dr. Shane Wang
Graduate Program Committee Members Dr. Dipankar Chakravarti
354 Northern Virginia Center
Graduate Coordinator
Dr. Sonja Crockett
2016 Pamplin Hall